HAZMAT drivers work with and transport dangerous chemicals daily. Hazardous material, or HAZMAT, refers to anything that could harm people, animals, or our ecosystem when it either makes contact with the individual, or blends other chemicals, air, fire, or water.
We depend on HAZMAT drivers who transport these materials from one point to another to keep our community, other drivers, and the environment safe. It is an essential job that takes the most highly-skilled drivers to complete. As a crucial part of our social and environmental operations, it is expected to be a secure industry to pursue, with the projected employment rate set to increase 4% by 2031 (bls.gov).
Requirements and Licensure
A HAZMAT driver is required to possess a Class A CDL, along with specific endorsements. There are 3 types of endorsements that are relevant to HAZMAT drivers. While the X endorsement is usually preferable for most, N and H endorsements are relevant to the field as well.
- Tanker Vehicles: Also known as an N endorsement. A tanker vehicle endorsement allows you to operate a tanker carrying an array of liquids or liquefied gasses.
- Hazardous Materials: Also referred to as an H endorsement. To receive the H endorsement, you will need to pass a written knowledge test, turn in a TSA Security Threat Assessment Application, and need to be fingerprinted.
- Combination Tanker & Hazardous Materials: Most common and helpful for HAZMAT drivers, it is also known as the X endorsement. With an X endorsement, you are qualified to both operate a tanker and transport hazardous materials.
To apply for any one of these endorsements, you typically will need to pass a written test, and pay a fee to the DMV which usually ranges between $20.00-$50.00. It is likely you will undergo a background check as well.
Drivers must also be at least 21 years of age, have a clean driving record, and possess a high school diploma or GED equivalent.
Hauling HAZMAT as a Career
According to BLS projections, job security is something HAZMAT drivers can look forward to in the coming years. The shortage of truck drivers, along with the specialized nature of the field, has created a high demand for HAZMAT. This demand is also sustained by many industries outside of the more obvious ones like waste management or chemical manufacturing needs.
People tend to picture harmful chemicals or explosives when thinking of HAZMAT, and while these items are handled, there are other industries depending on shipping via HAZMAT. For instance, the production of batteries, pharmaceuticals, even cosmetics and perfume rely on the transportation HAZMAT drivers provide.
The daily hauling of HAZMAT materials means drivers will be required to wear PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) at virtually all times. Usually in the winter PPE uniforms don’t present much of an issue. On warmer days however, PPE uniforms can be uncomfortable, and drivers must be sure to stay as hydrated as possible.
A HAZMAT driver occupies an important role in society’s daily operations. With the risk of the materials involved and the great care needed to be taken during their transportation, HAZMAT truckers get to enjoy having one of the highest salaries trucking jobs have to offer. They also enjoy the same freedom OTR truckers do in driving across the nation.
Becoming a HAZMAT Driver
If you are considering becoming a HAZMAT truck driver, now is a great time to get training for your Class-A CDL at a driving school near you. HAZMAT driving presents a unique truck driving experience, along with reliable income.
If you already have your Class-A CDL and are looking for your next HAZMAT driving job, explore trucking jobs near you.